With 2019 over, it’s time to look forward to trends for digital health in 2020 and beyond. Many experts believe that the digital health market will only continue to increase in value in the coming decade.
Let’s look at what these experts, including futurists, consultants, and analysts at various companies, are saying about the future of digital health and explore how that might affect the healthcare industry as a whole.
The Rise of Femtech
A sub-category of digital health, femtech is focused specifically on female health care and health issues. As venture capital firms begin to embrace the idea of women’s health-oriented tech, femtech companies are likely to reap the benefits, rising to the top of the digital health space.
Many venture capital firms are run mostly by men, some of whom may struggle with understanding the value associated with investments in femtech companies. But that disinterest is starting to change, which spells good things for femtech startups. In 2020, investments in femtech, as well as new types of femtech, are expected to increase markedly.
Artificial Intelligence Changes
Don’t worry, AI tech doesn’t seem set to leave the digital health space any time soon, but there will likely be some changes on the horizon. Some predictions expect spending on AI to drop by as much as 50 percent.
The focus is shifting from hyping what AI technology might be able to do for health care to setting real-world, practical applications for existing AI tools. That means that AI will finally begin to prove useful in a clinical setting. The use of AI in biomedical research and in assisting clinicians with decision support will likely become a real application for the technology in the next decade. Non-clinical uses of AI, as in creating provider directories and assisting with billing and coding, are likely to become prevalent as well, but it’s the clinical AI applications that are most exciting.
It’s also likely that AI will continue to face challenges in terms of its ethical use in the medical community, from both patients and medical professionals alike. New training practices, validation tools, and methods of implementation will need to be explored in order to assure the public of the ethical and fair use of the technology.
Many people still voice their concerns when something goes wrong with AI. This is an issue that the digital health community, and the healthcare industry as a whole, must address if AI is to become an accepted tool in the clinical setting. Despite the success of AI tools, it’s easier for most people to accept them when they are used more as a confirmation tool than a diagnostic one—many find it “safer” when AI acts as a source of support for doctors, rather than handling diagnoses on its own.
Mainstream Telehealth Use
The next few years will likely see a shift in the mainstream adoption of telehealth tools. Current telehealth is overwhelmingly focused on the management of chronic conditions, but that is likely to change in 2020.
Experts predict that telehealth will soon achieve full regulatory approval, becoming a standard primary care option for patients of all kinds. As patients become accustomed to the idea of telehealth as well as the availability of telehealth tools to sub in for standard primary care, it’s likely that these tools will become normal and no longer seen as a radical new technological trend.
Telehealth tools are set up to help health care overcome some of its most prominent difficulties, including making quality care accessible and affordable for more and more people around the world. The implementation of 5G wireless is likely to improve telehealth by adding more possibilities for telehealth options, both in the home and in other locations.
The healthcare industry is changing as consumers increasingly look to find a retail-like model of healthcare options. Comparison shopping for healthcare providers and products has become easier than ever due to the advent of digital health tools.
Meanwhile, new entries into the digital health market (e.g., Walgreens, Walmart, Ali Health, Amazon, etc.) may seize the opportunity to offer expanded or brand-new services for patients.